Dialogue between the Opposition and Government is being held hostage by preconditions set by President Dr Irfaan Ali. This is according to the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon today, during a press conference.
Ali said a few days ago that there will be no dialogue with the Opposition until it recognizes his regime as legitimate. Additionally, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira is on record saying that no invitation was issued to the Opposition to take up positions on State boards because the coalition refuses to accept the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) as a democratically -appointed government.
In direct response to Dr Ali’s statement, Harmon said that such utterances indicate a “mindset to blatantly violate the constitution”. He added that such a recognition by the opposition will mean the withdrawal of the two elections petitions that have already been filed in the courts.
“I am advised that the presidential speech writers are again up to no good when it is said that President Irfan Ali will not consult with the leader of the opposition unless certain conditions are met…So anyone who sets the withdrawal of those petitions as a precondition to dialogue must be smoking something very cheap,” he said.
The leader noted that Coalition lawyers have already written to the Chief Justice (CJ) asking for directions with respect to an early hearing.
“Those my dear Guyanese, are your petitions. Even if I had the authority to do so, I would not do it. So it seems dialogue is being held hostage by the PPP,” he said.
Harmon reminded that the Constitution sets no precondition for consultation between the President and the Leader of the Opposition (LOO).
The constitution specifically requires that there be consultation with the LOO by the president in the appointment of a number of constitutional office holders.
No precondition is attached to the following actions:
• Article 127 requires agreement of the LOO for the appointment of Chancellor and Chief Justice
• Article 191 – the Ombudsman shall be appointed by the president acting after consultation with the LOO
• Article 198- appointment of members of the Judicial Service Commission, acting in consultation with the LOO
• Article 200 – appointment of members of the Public Service Commission- three members appointed by the president after meaningful consultation with the LOO
• Article 207 – appointment of members of the teaching service commission- three persons appointed by the president after meaningful consultation with the LOO
• Article 210 – Police Service Commission – a Chairman appointed by the president after meaningful with LOO
• Article 212- Human Rights Commission- a chairperson shall be appointed by the president from a list not unacceptable to the president of six persons submitted by the LOO.
• Article 161 – Chairman of the Elections Commission – appointed by the president from a list of six persons not unacceptable to the president submitted by LOO.
Given the foregoing, Harmon said that the refusal to consult or have dialogue with the Opposition will result in Ali committing Constitutional breaches.